Netizen 24 CAN: “Over 400 collisions” in the GTA as a result of ice storm so far, OPP say

Posted by On 2:55 PM

“Over 400 collisions” in the GTA as a result of ice storm so far, OPP say

Pedestrians at Queens Quay and Rees St. as freezing rain came down across Toronto on Saturday.
Pedestrians at Queens Quay and Rees St. as freezing rain came down across Toronto on Saturday.
Sat., April 14, 2018

It’s a cold, icy world out there today, and for drivers especially, it could be a dangerous one: the Ontario Provincial Police say there have already been over 400 collisions in the GTA and surrounding area Saturday as a result of the ice storm sweeping across southern Ontario.

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt, who patrols provincially owned highways, has been posting numerous messages on Twitter this after noon warning drivers about the elevated risk.

“We’ve had some serious collisions,” Schmidt said. “Traffic is moving, it is slow, and the collisions we’re being called to, they’re all preventable. Remember, poor weather conditions and poor road conditions do not cause crashes, it is poor driving and driving beyond the conditions.”

Outside of the immediate city is where the weather seems nastiest, due to the lack of wind protection from buildings. Speaking from the side of a highway, Schmidt remarked, “it’s even hard to stand out here right now with the ice pellets blowing in your face.”

Within the city, traffic appeared to be lighter than normal, and Toronto police Const. Allan Davidson said there had only been one collision that could be attributed to the storm by early afternoon. However, Traffic Services would tweet a few hours later that there had been “numerous crashes,” with the majority taking place in Scarborough. No fatalities have been reported yet.

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Environment Canada says the ice storm hitting parts of southern Ontario could be “historic,” potentially downing trees and power lines and leading to widespread power outages.

The forecast left much of the region scrambling to prepare; Hydro One had extra crews on standby, some universities cancelled weekend exams and airports warned travellers to check their flights online before heading out. Drivers were urged to take extra care, as gusty winds and broken tree limbs could add to the danger on icy roads.

Environment Canada said freezing rain, ice pellets and snow could affect areas stretching from Windsor, Ont., up to the Muskoka region and east to Ottawa.

Read more:

It’s going to get icy, Toronto

Toronto’s weekend forecast: ice, and lots of it

Peter Kimbell, a meteorologist with the weather agency, said some communities in southwestern Ontario near Sarnia and Lake Erie cou ld get up to 40 millimetres of freezing rain â€" more than the 30 millimetres that hit Toronto in 2013, leaving parts of Ontario without power for days.

“It’s a lot of freezing rain, no question about it,” said Kimbell. “It certainly has the potential to cause a significant impact for sure.”

The sloppy weather is expected to continue into Sunday until temperatures rise to above freezing sometime in the afternoon.

Toronto is expected to only receive 15 millimetres of freezing rain, while Kimbell said areas like Hamilton could receive between 20 and 30 millimetres by Sunday.

Toronto’s Pearson Airport advised passengers to check their flight status before leaving, with about two dozen flights cancelled or delayed by early Saturday afternoon.

Hydro One said it has crews ready to respond to outages 24/7, and additional resources are on standby this weekend. Toronto Hydro tweeted this afternoon that they already had over 30 crews in the field for active outage response, and were preparing for any overnight problems.

Festivities for the Toronto Raptors’ return to the NBA Playoffs Saturday afternoon were dampened by the storm, with the team forced to cancel the outdoor viewing party for the first round opener against the Washington Wizards.

Hundreds of fans usually transform the area outside the Air Canada Centre into “Jurassic Park” during playoff games, cheering on the team while watching on large outdoor screens in Maple Leaf Square. But with the messy spring storm pressing down on the city, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment issued an advisory Saturday afternoon saying the party has been cancelled. The company cited high winds and freezing rain expected throughout the afternoon as forcing the closure.

The square will also be closed for the Toronto Maple Leafs playoff game against the Boston Bruins later in the night.

Some universities and colleges in the GTA also closed in anticipation of th e storm.

Ryerson University cancelled afternoon exams on Saturday, although the morning exams were expected to go ahead as scheduled.

Centennial College and Sheridan College closed their campuses Saturday. York University suspended “normal university operations,” and exams affected will be rescheduled. Humber College’s open house, classes and campus activities have been cancelled, as well as University of Guelph-Humber exams scheduled for Saturday.

The University of Waterloo, McMaster University and Wilfrid Laurier University opted to delay weekend exams due to the weather.

Back on the transportation side of things, the TTC announced a series of service changes to cope with the storm. The agency said it had applied anti-freeze to overhead streetcar wires and track switches, and had outfitted every fifth streetcar’s trolley poles with “sliders” to clear away ice.

Buses are replacing streetcars on St. Clair Ave., as well as on the eastern end of the 501 Queen route, between Greenwood Ave. and Neville Park. The 501 was also diverting along King St. between Connaught Ave. and Dundas West station.

The TTC planned to run storm cars on the subway network on Saturday night to keep power rails free from ice.

For those who are driving on the roads today, Schmidt is advising drivers to “slow way down, give yourself a lot of space. Whatever space you have behind the vehicle in front of you, double it, because you are going to need that if traffic suddenly stops.”

Of course, the best way to stay safe on the roads? Stay off them.

“If you can avoid travel today, this would be the day to avoid it,” said Schmidt. “It is not a pleasant day to be out on the roads.”

With files from the Canadian Press and Star staff

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